I'll come up with something in a minute.

This is not the greatest spoon in the world

First I want to show you something fugly. I mean, wow! It’s so ugly it’s almost beautiful.

Next I want to talk about cereal premuims.

Loot what I got in my cereal.
My first piece of Indiana Jones merch for this cycle!
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Even says “Indiana Jones” in case you get confused.
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And of course, it lights up!
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Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking did he take 6 pictures or only 5?
Actually you’re thinking “Didn’t something like this come around at the last Star Wars?”
Yes, yes it did.
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Actually it makes the new spoon seem like trying to shoe horn Indy into an old idea.
These aren’t the best spoons I own though, this is.
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My Quick Bunny spoon!
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He rocks the block. Also, he can actually be used. Those plastic spoons are terrible, even for cereal.

Group shot!
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And then there is the Tomato Salad that I made last night. wanted a shot because she said it looked so pretty.
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And another go at the grifon because it’s so damn cool
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May 9, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 1 Comment

Star Trekin’

I may have mentioned that I watched the third season of Star Trek this week and then having actually finished watching the show bought the movies. I noticed something about Star Trek while watching. Fully half the women in the federation are either doctors or have important jobs. The other half are relegated to the “Lieutenant Upskirt” position, but then NBC had executives and guys in suits can only understand things on so many levels. It was 1968 after all and if they didn’t get to look up girl’s skirts the guys in suits got terribly depressed and threatened to cancel the show, which they did anyway.

My point was though that there are a lot of women who were intelligent on that show. Not only were they smart, but they had short skirts to show of their simply smashing legs. Hot babes with brains! The Avengers was quite popular when Mrs. Peel was around too for some strange reason that I can’t manage to put my finger on at the moment. Something about brains and boots I think.

I also noticed that Star Trek had a boat load of women writers. This even included Sheri Lewis, yes that Sheri Lewis of Lamb Chop fame. As a side note the episode she wrote is where I actually coined “Lieutenant Upskirt” comment while trying to explain to Holly what had happened in the first 40 minutes and why the camera seemed to be aimed directly up her skirt (She was laying down on a sickbay bed). Phrases like “Well, Lieutenant Upskirt here is beset by the naughty photo element of the week” came all too easily. Despite the unfortunate camera angles, it’s actually a pretty good episode.

I don’t have enough TV shows from the sixties to compare, but it seems like there were a lot of women working on Star Trek. Since the rest of entertainment was pretty dominated by men I assume that writing generally was as well. It does make me wonder about how other shows, more modern shows to be precise, compare in terms of their writing staff. Highlander had a few women writing, but it’s really hard to get numbers down because of how credited writing works within a TV show.

May 8, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

20 simple rules for writing my mystery.

Every once in a while I go back and check on S.S. Van Dine’s 20 rules for writing detective stories, just to see if I can get away with breaking any. At the time he wrote these rules, they were good rules, and as I understand it stemmed from his frustration with many bad stories. Most of the rules are still useful, for the most part anyway. The problem is that some of them have become cliché and trying to hold to them can be damaging for a good story.

Let’s see how I feel about them, shall we?

1. The reader must have equal opportunity with the detective for solving the mystery. All clues must be plainly stated and described.
I sort of agree. I like the idea of the detective not really solving the case though. I like the idea of having the solution fall in his lap because he didn’t really solve it. As a writer, I’m perverse in that way. I like things that work out while the main character doesn’t really understand why or how they worked out.

2. No willful tricks or deceptions may be placed on the reader other than those played legitimately by the criminal on the detective himself.
I’ll grant this one for the most part. You’ve got to give the reader at least the appearance of a chance.

3. There must be no love interest. The business in hand is to bring a criminal to the bar of justice, not to bring a lovelorn couple to the hymeneal altar.
Blah! I like a love story now and then. With some of my favorite mystery books, the use of a love interest as a distraction or a foil elevates the story greatly.

4. The detective himself, or one of the official investigators, should never turn out to be the culprit. This is bald trickery, on a par with offering some one a bright penny for a five-dollar gold piece. It’s false pretenses.
I’m on the fence about this one. I’ve seen it done well, and I’ve seen it done VERY badly. Probably, on balance, I would say you should stick to this one. The only way you can manage is if none of the main investigators for your story are the culprit. A cop, or fellow detective can do it, but they should be more on the sidelines. Even then, a good portion of the story should really be dedicated to proving it and the unmasking should come early.

5. The culprit must be determined by logical deductions — not by accident or coincidence or unmotivated confession. To solve a criminal problem in this latter fashion is like sending the reader on a deliberate wild-goose chase, and then telling him, after he has failed, that you had the object of his search up your sleeve all the time. Such an author is no better than a practical joker.
It depends on how real you want to be. In real life, murderers are often caught by accident and happenstance. People do confess at odd times, when they think they’re more trapped than they really are or because they aren’t thinking about what they’re saying. You can do it, but you need skill.

6. The detective novel must have a detective in it; and a detective is not a detective unless he detects. His function is to gather clues that will eventually lead to the person who did the dirty work in the first chapter; and if the detective does not reach his conclusions through an analysis of those clues, he has no more solved his problem than the schoolboy who gets his answer out of the back of the arithmetic.
I’m going to give this one two thumbs and one big toe up. While I believe in accidents (see above) I also believe that a lot of work still needs to be done after that.

7. There simply must be a corpse in a detective novel, and the deader the corpse the better. No lesser crime than murder will suffice. Three hundred pages is far too much pother for a crime other than murder. After all, the reader’s trouble and expenditure of energy must be rewarded.
To be honest, murders are cliché. If one looks at Agatha Christie’s work, it’s amazing there are any occupants of country manor homes left for Bertie Wooster to go visit. The constant deaths get boring after a while and just every once in a while I like an investigation over a stolen necklace or something.

8. The problem of the crime must he solved by strictly naturalistic means. Such methods for learning the truth as slate-writing, ouija-boards, mind-reading, spiritualistic se’ances, crystal-gazing, and the like, are taboo. A reader has a chance when matching his wits with a rationalistic detective, but if he must compete with the world of spirits and go chasing about the fourth dimension of metaphysics, he is defeated ab initio.
I am in agreement! Unless you’re going to base the entire story around magic, which brings everyone back to a level playing field and still requires the reader to put information into a cogent collection or something. But then what you’ve got is more a fantasy than a full blow mystery story.

9. There must be but one detective — that is, but one protagonist of deduction — one deus ex machina. To bring the minds of three or four, or sometimes a gang of detectives to bear on a problem, is not only to disperse the interest and break the direct thread of logic, but to take an unfair advantage of the reader. If there is more than one detective the reader doesn’t know who his codeductor is. It’s like making the reader run a race with a relay team.
I like Nero Wolfe’s team of guys actually. While those stories are told first person by Archie, they still have a team feel and I like that. You should be careful, but you can do it.

10. The culprit must turn out to be a person who has played a more or less prominent part in the story — that is, a person with whom the reader is familiar and in whom he takes an interest.
I agree here too. You need time to get to know the culprit, if only a little bit.

11. A servant must not be chosen by the author as the culprit. This is begging a noble question. It is a too easy solution. The culprit must be a decidedly worth-while person — one that wouldn’t ordinarily come under suspicion.
Oh screw this! What is this – 1842? Let the butler do it once in a while! Stop claiming that just because someone works for their money that they aren’t a worth-while person.

12. There must be but one culprit, no matter how many murders are committed. The culprit may, of course, have a minor helper or co-plotter; but the entire onus must rest on one pair of shoulders: the entire indignation of the reader must be permitted to concentrate on a single black nature.
If you’re doing a simple story, maybe. Me? I like things to get a little more complex once in a while. It can lead to a more interesting story.

13. Secret societies, camorras, mafias, et al., have no place in a detective story. A fascinating and truly beautiful murder is irremediably spoiled by any such wholesale culpability. To be sure, the murderer in a detective novel should be given a sporting chance; but it is going too far to grant him a secret society to fall back on. No high-class, self-respecting murderer would want such odds.
While I don’t disagree 100%, I do disagree a little. I’ve seen the secret cabal things work a few times, and I’ve seen it fail a few times.

14. The method of murder, and the means of detecting it, must be be rational and scientific. That is to say, pseudo-science and purely imaginative and speculative devices are not to be tolerated in the roman policier. Once an author soars into the realm of fantasy, in the Jules Verne manner, he is outside the bounds of detective fiction, cavorting in the uncharted reaches of adventure.
I see no problem with a Fantasy mystery story, so long as everyone is more or less equally fantastic. See my answer for 8.

15. The truth of the problem must at all times be apparent — provided the reader is shrewd enough to see it. By this I mean that if the reader, after learning the explanation for the crime, should reread the book, he would see that the solution had, in a sense, been staring him in the face-that all the clues really pointed to the culprit — and that, if he had been as clever as the detective, he could have solved the mystery himself without going on to the final chapter. That the clever reader does often thus solve the problem goes without saying.
I’ll go with this one.

16. A detective novel should contain no long descriptive passages, no literary dallying with side-issues, no subtly worked-out character analyses, no “atmospheric” preoccupations. Such matters have no vital place in a record of crime and deduction. They hold up the action and introduce issues irrelevant to the main purpose, which is to state a problem, analyze it, and bring it to a successful conclusion. To be sure, there must be a sufficient descriptiveness and character delineation to give the novel verisimilitude.
Oh I don’t know, Raymond Chandler thinks he did quite well with all that flowery talk. Robert B. Parker seems to not be going broke with his descriptive passages.

17. A professional criminal must never be shouldered with the guilt of a crime in a detective story. Crimes by housebreakers and bandits are the province of the police departments — not of authors and brilliant amateur detectives. A really fascinating crime is one committed by a pillar of a church, or a spinster noted for her charities.
Actually, by now it’s fairly interesting and may I say unexpected if the killer ISN’T a church pillar or something. That’s my problem, these rules have become the cliché in many ways.

18. A crime in a detective story must never turn out to be an accident or a suicide. To end an odyssey of sleuthing with such an anti-climax is to hoodwink the trusting and kind-hearted reader.
Oh go on! Just once, for a novelty. No one will EVER see it coming.

19. The motives for all crimes in detective stories should be personal. International plottings and war politics belong in a different category of fiction — in secret-service tales, for instance. But a murder story must be kept gemütlich, so to speak. It must reflect the reader’s everyday experiences, and give him a certain outlet for his own repressed desires and emotions.
I see no reason why a person can’t kill for political reasons. Once could argue that the idea of person is different for each person.

20. And (to give my Credo an even score of items) I herewith list a few of the devices which no self-respecting detective story writer will now avail himself of. They have been employed too often, and are familiar to all true lovers of literary crime. To use them is a confession of the author’s ineptitude and lack of originality. (a) Determining the identity of the culprit by comparing the butt of a cigarette left at the scene of the crime with the brand smoked by a suspect. (b) The bogus spiritualistic se’ance to frighten the culprit into giving himself away. (c) Forged fingerprints. (d) The dummy-figure alibi. (e) The dog that does not bark and thereby reveals the fact that the intruder is familiar. (f)The final pinning of the crime on a twin, or a relative who looks exactly like the suspected, but innocent, person. (g) The hypodermic syringe and the knockout drops. (h) The commission of the murder in a locked room after the police have actually broken in. (i) The word association test for guilt. (j) The cipher, or code letter, which is eventually unraveled by the sleuth.
Kind of hedging to make a list of 20 here aren’t we? I’ll grant most of these are cheats, but any of them could be suggested as a bit of business for the hero to work through. The red herring possibilities are great fun.

May 8, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Cornhole an Ewok’s Mullet (Can’t wait to see what kind of search results I get for that one)

While it’s not entirely true, I do like certain lists of “Oh we ALL did that, quit pretending.”

You might know what I mean, like how people who are in their early to mid 30s like to pretend that they always hated the Ewoks, despite the fact that everyone loved the Ewoks back when they were 6. I mean c’mon, I still love them. Consider how awesome they really are. “Yeah, that’s right Empire. You’ve got a big metal ball of death, we’ve got fighting midgets in teddy bear costumes. Where’s your Force now?” Only now, when they’ve grown up do they want to pretend they never liked them in the first place despite still having that stuffed plush Ewok in a place of honor on their bed.

The first time I ever heard it was when someone was talking shit about bell bottoms in some 80s show and the other character mentioned that everyone wore nothing but bell bottoms only a few years ago and the first character damn well knew it.

Also the mullet. People talk shit about the mullet now, but have you ever checked how many people used to have them? It only became a thing a few years ago, long after the mullet went out of fashion. Lots of people still have them actually, what with 70s hair being “in” again for the last few years it’ll likely come back any minute now. I mean if polo shirts are acceptable (in 2008! For fucks sake what the hell is wrong with us?) then can the mullet be far behind?

I know people who didn’t have a mullet, never wore bell bottoms and hated the Ewoks from the word go. It seems though, that too many people try to pretend that they always were against what looks like dumb fashions now. I can dig that people thought the mullet looked dumb in the 80s, but I have a problem believing it when I can look up old photos and prove that they had one. I also have trouble buying their foresight when I’ve watched them pick up every other stupid fashion that’s come and gone since then.

I always want to invent things, just to see if anyone will call me on how popular they used to be. This of course does lead to the looks I get for saying things like “Oh quit pretending. We were all into cornholing in the 90s, stop acting like you never did it!” but frankly, that’s just part of the fun.

Mostly this whole post was me trying to figure out a good reason to use cornholing, because I agree with George Carlin that it doesn’t get said enough anymore.

May 7, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A type of Stereo

So I’m reading the f-list right? And I come across this bit written by a buddy in which he laments some of the stereotypes that the gay community has to put up with. The constant orgies, the drug use, so on. My impression is that he’s looking more in at the gay community than looking out at the rest of the wide world in his complaint.

While there is drug use and some orginess* among gays, there is drug use and orginess amongst straight people too. I suspect that humans just occasionally use drugs and have group gropes. In fact, I know that humans just have group sex sometimes. It’s a thing we do.

So why all the stereotypes? Well I have an idea that I’ve heard mentioned a few other places and I’m going to tell you about it here. The problem is that straight people hear sex and we stop thinking. We hear “Homosexual” and at the “sex” part of that word the straight brain just sort of shuts down. Now, the only thing a straight person can think of when thinking about a gay person is their sexuality, and thus the only activity they can picture them doing is sexual.

When the only activities someone can picture a person doing are sexual activities, they usually imagine that person must spend all day dedicated to that. It makes a bit of sense, they’ve all got to fill the same 24 hours and if they don’t go shopping or play squash, they must be having sex.

When you’ve already got people who have it in their heads that gay people are either having sex or on their way to have sex, you can see how the rest of it falls into line. In their tiny little minds they must see how people can get worn out rather quickly, so gays must be trying to get fresh recruits for their constant sex all the time. When a person of limited realistic thinking capabilities starts on that line, they sort of allow any hedonistic activities to the list. Drug use, sex bars, musical theater, all the little evils that the straight mind can produce come flowing out.

Now add to this dilemma the fact that the first experience most straight people have with gay people is when they’re all kids and you really have a problem. Since most straight people meet gay folk when they’re young and just learning about this whole sex thing. While many gay people report that they always knew something was different, I’ve talked to enough people who only really thought about sex when they hit puberty to think that a good number of gay folk must have run along the same track. The problem is that a gay person has society telling them to run one way and their feelings telling them to run the other. This regularly means a goodly amount of trying to run the proper way, getting tired, running the other way when no one is looking, and a metaphor that really doesn’t hold up under scrutiny.

When you throw in the bisexuals who during those years sometimes aggressively run both ways and normal teenage/young adult experimentation into the mix, you can see how gay people get dismissed so much. Here is a little secret that no one else will tell you. Lots of people went through a “why don’t I touch a member of the same sex to see what it’s like” stage in their sexual development. While some of those people evolve into bisexuals and some of those people turn out to be homosexuals, for a lot of people it turns out to have been a phase they went through. People dismiss sexual deviance (as in a deviance from the heterosexual so-called norm) as a phase because lots and lots of people went through a similar period as a phase. As a result, any slightly straight behavior from a homosexual will be pointed to as signs that they are coming out of their phase, which is rather silly when someone points to an 87 year old queen kissing his sister on the cheek, but they do it anyway.

When a person’s mind already has a few stereotyped images in their head, they will ignore anything that doesn’t fit the stereotype. Often, if they’ve got a really narrow mind, they will ignore things that don’t fit quite actively. Often screaming and shouting at a person and demanding that they do the stereotypical things in secret if they’re not seen doing it in public. They will rant and rave about how they must be doing Activity X because and I quote “They all do it! Look at them! You know they’re up to something!**” even when the person in question is quietly sitting in the corner trying to read a news paper. The need for someone to fit a rigidly defined set of characteristics is so strong for some people that their tiny little minds can’t handle anything outside of those characteristics. The problem is that there is a limited amount of things the people being stereotyped can do to change those perceptions, beyond getting to know as many people as possible so that more straight people will smack the one bigot and tell them not to be an asshole.

Sadly, that’s really how change comes. Not from presenting a better front as a community, but by getting to know people in the other community who will then deal with their own. When the two camps sit across from each other, it doesn’t matter how good they look across the field, because we’re all sure the nice business like demeanor is just a front and all the debauchery is in the back.

Yeah, basically we all think society is just a mullet. Business in the front, party at the back, and a pretty nasty party it is too. So I guess I’m looking at a tangled mullet that hasn’t been washed in some time and probably has remnants of the time they tried to dye half their head red that one time still left over.

*Totally a real word, don’t care what spellcheck says. Spellcheck doesn’t even recognize itself as a word so who can trust it?

**Now I come to think of it, the person I’m quoting also said that about Blacks, Jews, Latinos and The Irish.

May 6, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment